Movie: The French Dispatch (Searchlight Pictures, 2021)

After a couple of delays and a bunch of small trailers Wes Anderson‘s newest film hit the cinema finally. „The French Dispatch“ marks his 10th movie and the successor to „Grand Budapest Hotel“ (2014) and the stop motion animation movie „Isle of Dogs“ (2018). With an overwhelming cast and a flair of fine details „The French Dispatch“ looks like his most ambitious movie until now.

A new Wes Anderson movie is every time a special thing, and with „The French Dispatch“ he reaches new highs in complexity and scene details. It‘s definitive impossible to catch all the fine details with the first spot. And this fact already appears with one of the first scenes. It‘s the opening part with the waitress. It‘s still wonderful how Anderson direct such simple scenes and give them a smile. „The French Dispatch“ tells us the story about a print magazine lead by Arthur Howitzer Jr. (played by Bill Murray) and their most exiting stories. The movie is splitted in four stories.

The first one „The Cycling Reporter“ is about the small city Ennui in wich the magazine is located. Herbsaint Sazerac (played by Owen Wilson) reports about Ennui and the small changes here and there. It acts more like an intro to the main stories.

„The Concrete Masterpiece“ tells us something about the doomed murderer Moses Rosenthaler (played by Benitio del Toro) and the matron Simone (played by Léa Seydoux). She stands by him as a nude model and muse in prison. As art critic Julian Cadazio (played by Adrien Brody) discovered a picture by Rosenthaler the story takes off.

„Revisions to a Manifesto“ is the story about the french student revolt. The main part will be played by the political journalist Lucinda Krementz (played by Frances McDormand). She repots about the leader Zeffirelli (played by Timothée Chalamet) and his female counterpart Juliette (played by Lyna Khoudri).

„The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner“ is about the police commissioner Roebuck Wright (played by Jeffrey Wright) who was intended to write a report about his police cook, Nescaffier (played by Steve Park) but in the meantime his son was kidnapped. It‘s a wonderful hunting story about the commissioner and the kidnappers gang. It includes one of my favourite parts of the movie: The Chase. Like in the Grand Budapest Hotel Anderson shifts from the typical movie style to a comic one. Such a great sequence!

As written in the opening lines, it‘s impossible to spot all the fine details by watching the movie the first time. At some scenes Anderson tends to overstrained the audience by the amount of scene changes. In addition to that some dialogs of „Revisions to a Minfesto“ were in the original language. Because of the fast dialogs it‘s not that easy to catch all translated subtitles there. But what remains at the end is an overwhelming cinema experience with and extraordinary cast. There are not so many producers out there to catch such a star ensamble every time again. It‘s a beautiful movie and it takes place in the Wes Anderson history of masterpieces like „The Royal Tenenbaums“, „The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou“ and „Grand Budapest Hotel“. I can‘t wait to rewatch the movie once again!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Movie: Joker (DC Universe, 2019)

Every superhero needs his antihero! One of the most famous comic books rivals in history is Batman vs. Joker. Until now one of Jokers most iconic roles was played by Heath Ledger in Christopher Nolan‘s „The Dark Night“ from 2008. Joker‘s role wasn‘t discribed like that before.

All of the Batman movies from the past described the Joker character only on the edges. Most of the background stories stay hidden. One of the best Batman movies „The Dark Night“ shows us a bit more. The inner disunity and indifferences was matched with a shiny madness. That‘s the effort of Heath Ledger‘s amazing role play. Until now it‘s one of his most controversial roles. Just before the release of the movie no one, except Nolan believes on the success. The result is one of the best played Joker role in the history of Batman movies.

The risks of a standalone movie aren‘t low. Just the Star Wars francise faces the same issues if you look at „Solo“. It rises and falls with the story himself. There are two questions in common: Is the story good enough? And, should this kind of story be told? If the director told us to much, this could demage the mistery of the character. In case of Joker director Todd Philips finds the right balance. The story starts relatively slowly for one good reason: Character devolopment. The audience can follow the complete transformation from Arthur Fleck to Joker played by Joaquin Phoenix. This transformation is credible and comprehensible. Nowadays especially high budget movies suffer at this important point. It should be said that Joker wasn‘t a mainstream movie. This can be recognized by the screenplay and the story. It‘s more like an arthouse production.

Just the presentation of violence encounters many criticisms. For me that‘s not a big issue because most of the developments in the movie are comprehensible. Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, Her, Walk the Line) interprets the role a bit different compared with Heath Ledger. But the inner conflict and the missing acceptence in the society was shown very good. Without any spoiler of the movie, it‘s also the description about how much things can a person handle without any explosions.

But there is one more thing here. The hidden star of the movie. It‘s the original score from Icelandic artist Hildur Guðnadóttir. She is also known for the fantastic score of Chernobyl (HBO). With Joker she choose a more classical approach without losing any dramatic peaks. As a spectator you will recognize the soundtrack at some points, but it stays more in the background of the movie. Maybe that‘s because of the running story and conversions. Therefore it‘s worth to listen to the soundtrack at it‘s own. It could be helpful if you are a bit fimilar with classical music. If yes the original score is highly recommended. Just in the last section the dramatic will reach it‘s peak. „Call Me Joker“ sets a marvelous end for both the movie and the soundtrack!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Movie: Blade Runner 2049 (Warner Bros. Pictures, 2017)

We live in an era of reboots and predecessor movies. Nowadays the studios have great success with re-interpretations of known stories. If we look back in history there are only a few examples where part two outperforms the original. Mostly a few triologies like the classic Star Wars, Indiana Jones or Back to the Future marks an exception.

In these movies I never have the feeling of an non-essential addition or iteration in the follow-on parts. Every part shines on it’s on. Reboots are special in it’s own way. There are some popular brands from the past like Batman, Ghostbusters or Star Trek. We all love the original films with thier unique touch, but the reboots works only in rarely cases. In some cases the story itself isn’t the main problem. In some cases the originals doesn’t answer all the questions. But that’s not a bad thing and an open mistery for a few movies. And that’s also the case for the original Blade Runner back in 1982. The main story of Blade Runner tells us the story about officer Rick Deckard, an ex-cop and a so-called “Blade Runner”. Blade runners are people assigned to assassinate “replicants”. The replicants are androids that look like real human beings. These replicants commit a bloody mutiny on the Off World colony. So Deckard was called out of retirement to track down these androids. It’s all about the question: What’s the different between replicants and real humans?

The original movie becomes success only years later but nowadays Blade Runner was called as one of the revolutionary sci-fi movies in history. It’s a masterpiece from the past. The combination between screenplay, acting and atmosphere was outstanding from that period. For me, one of the most impressing elements is the camera work. It is very prominent in the last section of the movie where the lighting and shadow effects sets new standards. I’m very sceptical about a predecessor first because I believe that a follow on movie ruined the original.

The truth is, Blade Runner 2049 is a very good sequel and that’s because director Denis Villeneuve looks at every detail of the original. It takes place in the dark and rainy Los Angeles where officer K (Ryan Gosling) discovers the remains of a once-pregnant replicant. Finally K goes on to find former Blade Runner Deckard (Harrison Ford) to receive more information about his past. To prevent a possible war between replicants and humans, K is secretly tasked with finding the child and destroying all evidence related to it. Blade Runner 2049 is far away to described as a classical Hollywood movie. For me it’s clear why it’s not a post office hit: All scenes are relevant and full of so many fine details. This fact leads to an extraordinary runtime around 160 minutes. That’s definitely not a typically blockbuster runtime. The acting between Gosling and Ford works perfectly. Also Jared Leto as Niander Wallace convinced. I’m not a big sci-fi specialist but the ability to creates something new without ruin the original is by far a success. Blade Runner 2049 takes his time, builds a great story and delivers a unique atmopshere. That’s also because the compossed soundtrack by Hans Zimmer fits perfect in almost every scene. But that’s one of my few criticism. Originally composer Jóhann Jóhannsson should compose the movie soundtrack, but weeks before the completion Jóhannsson leaves the project. I really loves the renewed Blade Runner theme from the trailer, but it doesn’t appears in the movie itself.

Conclusion: Blade Runner 2049 is modern sci-fi movie packed with great elements from the past. To reconstruct all details of the original movie it makes definitely sense to watch the prequel again until you watched the new one. Of course the main story of Blade Runner delivers enough stuff to create a great movie but this fact doesn’t decrease the success by Villeneuve. Nowadays it is very difficult to convince the audience only by great acting, a good story or a unique atmosphere but in this case Blade Runner 2049 is a silent hit. One of the best sci-fi movies in 2017. I’m really impressed!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Movie: Dunkirk (Warner Bros. Pictures, 2017)

War movies have a long history in cinema. There are some famous ones like Acopolype Now (1979) from Francis Ford Coppola or Full Metal Jacket (1987) from Standly Kubric. Both tells us a story in or around the vietnam war. Also in the modern days the topic war is still present. This will showen by movies like Saving private Ryan (1998) from Stevan Spielberg or the untypically Italian Western Inglourious Bastards (2009) from Quantin Tarantino. All of these movies are totally different in presentation. The question is, which intention will be focused, the war or the consequences of the war?

Like Tarantino, Christopher Nolan is one of the last directors with an strong focus on analog production. So there is no wonder that Dunkirk will be produced in 70mm. It is a high-resolution film gauge for still and motion picture photography, with higher resolution than the standard 35 mm motion picture film format. This makes totally sense if you look at the screensplay. In Dunkirk you will find a lot of scenes with the intension that only the pictures tell the story. These pictures are very detailed and full of shocking facts about war. There is no doubt that Dunkirk is a success if you look at the sound effects and camera screenplay. Also music composer Hans Zimmer adds an great minimal soundtrack.

The movie it self tells us three different stories. 1. The Mole: The perspective of the soldier Tommy played by Fionn Whitehead. It starts at the streets of Dunkirk as he was under attack by the germans. Later he met another young french soldier Gibson. Both support them each other in all different war scenarios. 2. The Sea: The secound one is about a family and the evacuation by sea. Mr Dawson played by Mark Rylance and his sons started thier own rescue mission without the help of the Royal Navy. This risky plan includes some dramatic experiences by sea. 3. The Air: The air strikes are focused on three Spitfires, piloted by Farrier, Collins and their Squadron Leader. They encounter German fighters and get into a dogfight, during which ‘Fortis Leader’ is shot down. Farrier assumes command, and although his fuel gauge is shattered, they continue towards France. His colleagues machine was damaged, so he have to fight still alone in the next attacking scenes.

Conclusion: If you expected a feature film you might be disappointed, because Dunkirk is very minimalistic and more an art movie than a normal story telling movie. And there is also the strengthen and the weaknesses. The presentation by screen and soundtrack is impressive because if you look in the younger past you will not pick a lot of movies with these strong intension. Nolan purports only the pictures and the story that results in. The thoughts of the protagonists can be imagine by the spectator himself. This results in a very personal an oppressive war movie that we haven’t seen until now!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Movie: Wonder Woman (DC Universe, 2017)

Nowadays superhero movies are very popular. So there is no wonder that the last Avengers movie “The First Avenger: Civil War” was the most commercial success, grossing over $1.1 billion worldwide and making it the highest-grossing film in 2016. For Marvel it is the most important series together with “Guardians of the Galaxy”. The other prominent studio for superhero movies is DC. But the DC Universe hasn’t that same sucess, excluded the current Batman triology. The attempt to combine two heros in one movie with Batman Vs. Superman wasn’t a great deal for DC and the critics were mixed.

For the only women in the DC francise there is only one movie out until now. The not very popular television Wonder Woman movie from 1974. So there is no wonder that DC would like to change this status. I’m definitely not an expert for superhero movies. I know the old Spider-Man movies by Sam Raimi and the Batman triology by Christopher Nolan.

I would like to be fair, I’m not very impressed by the cinema trailer back in May. At the first glimpse it looks like a overpraised trash action movie. But I have a good feeling about the main actor Gal Gadot. For DC it was a lucky punch as a main character. There is no doubt, Wonder Women scores not for the acting or the high quailty of the dialogs, it’s an action movie. The main story about an ultimate weapon, developed by the germans isn’t totally bad at all. The truly strength about the movie are the comedy elements. The jokes between Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious) and Chris Pine (Star Trek: Into Darkness) aren’t bad and well balanced. Also the two next performers Saïd Taghmaoui (American Hustle) and Ewen Bremner (Black Hawk Down) made a great job. Of course one of the main strengh of Wonder Women is the presentation. Sometimes it is overpraised, like the fighting scene in the last part of the movie. But if I should pick one favourite scene, I choose the defense scene from the trench. Surely, it is maybe the most unrealistic scene of the movie, but for me it works fine.

Conclusion: Wonder Women isn’t that overrated action superhero movie that the trailer claimed. Not in every way. Sure it is a blockbuser movie and if you are expected an high intellectual movie you will be disappointed. But when you admit the setting and the kind of the movie you could be surprised. The movie scores with one main element: Entertainment. Maybe it is perfect for a sunday evening to dive in the fictional world of Wonder Woman. A movie you should watch in a cinema because it’s that kind of typically popcorn movie.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Movie: La La Land (StudioCanal, 2017)

First of all, yes the movie title “La La Land” sounds a little bit crazy. If you look only at the title it is impossible to say what kind of movie you can expact. When I saw the first teaser trailer about the new movie by Damien Chazelle I was very excited what kind of movie he will create next, because his last one Whiplash was absolutely amazing. Chazelle is a master to note all the details in every scene setting. In Whiplash the story between Andrew (Miles Teller) and his teacher Mr. Fletcher (J.K. Simons) was intense in almost every scene. Whiplash leaves the viewer behind with an emotional chaos. For me, La La Land is the opposite of Whiplash because it is more shiny and has this positive basic tone.

If you look at the trailers of La La Land you will observe that this is not a typical hollywood block buster movie. La La Land is primarily a musical / romantic movie. And this impression will set right within the first scene. Dancing and singing are key elements of La La Land. This leads to an unusual feeling in the first half an hour of the movie. For me, it takes time to dive in La La Land.

The story is about Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling and Mia, played by Emma Stone. Sebastian, an Jazz musican without an permanent employment and Mia, who dreams about a carrer as actor in hollywood. Both following thier dreams. He works occasionally in bars and clubs but he don’t like to play things he doesn’t like. That’s the reason why he wants to manage his own jazz club in the future. Mia works during the days in a coffee store at a movie studio. In her free time she jumps from one casting to another. Both pushes each other to realize thier dreams. On this way they have to accept some setbacks. This leads to complications in the relationship between Sebastian and Mia. I will not tell the hole story and how it ends, because La La Land is worth to watch. In my opinion this movie can also split the audience, because it is easy to love and hate it at the same time. Let me explain why: I can understand people how quit this movie after the first minutes, but these people are a little bit premature.

So, what is so special about La La Land? For me, the presentation is extraordinary. As I mentioned in the intro, producer Damien Chazelle looks on every detail. Wherever you look, acting, costumes, pictures and scene presentations are almost perfect. As an example I will pick the scene with Sebastian in the bar at the piano. As he played his free jazz installment Chazelle set the focus only at him and dims the light for his environment. This leads to an intense feeling. It goes on with the acting between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Both interact brilliant in fromt of the camera. You can dive in the mind of each character easily.

Conclusion: Nowadays, these kind of movies are untypical because musicals are not contemporary these days. Damien Chazelle succeeds to combine a great story with a modern musical touch. It’s good to know that people like Chazelle are courageous enough to do movies like this one. I think we will see some more from this young producer in the future. I’m excited what’s next, but by now I’m overwhelmed with La La Land, surely one of the movie highlights in 2017!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Movie: Star Wars – Rogue One (A Star Wars Story, Lucas Film 2016)

Hope, Rebellions are built on hope! This is one of the main statements from Rogue One, the first anthology movie from Disney. Back in 2015, Disney started a new triology with “The Force Awakens”. It tells us how the story goes on after Episode VI. The new movie is not part of the new triology, it’s a standalone movie with it’s own completed story.

“Rogue One” tells us the story how the rebellions capture the plans of the first death star. If we look back to the opening crawl from “A New Hope” we know the sucess by the rebellion but what we don’t know is how? “Rogue One” was produced by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters). Edwards tells us in an interview that he was a fan since his childhood and after the first screenplays back in 2014 he feels like a kid again. You can feel these kind of enthusiasm in almost every scene in the movie.

If someone has read my review for “The Force Awakens” last year you already know that I’m not a big fan of the first new Star Wars movie by Disney. One of my main issue with the new movie was the story. It feels like a copy of Episode IV “A new hope”, but everything has to be bigger. I’m still critical with the new triology because I don’t belive that Disney can tells us a good continuation after “The return of the Jedi” (Episode VI). For me, the strategy with the new anthology movies makes much more sense. “Rogue One” starts the series now…

With an completly new cast on the rebellion side and some fimilar characters. The new main character was played by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). A rebellion soldier and criminal. She is the daughter from Lyra (Valene Kane) and Gelan Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). Her father was mainly involved to create a new super weapon for the empire. In the opening scene we see how Gelan was captured by imperial officer Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn). Krennic is responsible to complete the new space station, called Death Star. After the opening scene the movie jumps many years forward and shows us an adult Jyn Erso, first captured by the empire and later by the rebellion. The rebellion, led by Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) intercepted a message from Gelan Erso, that the new super-weapon is almost finished. Jyn should find out what the empire plans next and how his father was involved. She was accompanied by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and an re-programmed imperial droid K-2SO played by Alan Tudyk (Firefly – TV Show). That’s how the mission starts. I won’t tell all the details and the full story in this review because you should watch it by your own. What I can say is, that the movie has some very special moments! One of my favourites, is the first scene with Grand Moff Tarkin. Yes, we know that original actor Peter Cushing died in 1994 but to see him (CGI) again creates a very special atmosphere. No one, exceptional of Vader, creates this kind of darkness.

Next, I want to tell you something about the look and feel of “Rogue One”. As I mentioned at the beginning, “Rogue One” tells us the story before “A New Hope” (Episode VI). We all know that “A New Hope” was created in the 70s with a simple look and feel if you watch the movie nowadays. In my opinion “Rogue One” looks brilliant! All the locations feels real, the costumes looks like the same time frame as “A New Hope”. Of course “Rogue One” has special effects, but these ones are excellent. As an example you can pick up the first test shoot by the death star to destroy Jedha. The screening and the music effects are absolutely amazing. Producer Gereth Edwards succeeds to create a standalone movie that fits perfectly between Episode III and Episode IV.

Conclusion: After “The Force Awakens” my expectations were not so high, but this changes after the first teaser trailer of “Rogue One”. One of “Rogue One” strengthen is his independence. You don’t have the feeling to look at a copy of a movie like “The Force Awakens”. Of course the story is not very special and the events are known because we all know how “A New Hope” ends but the presentation is very great. “Rogue One” is a war movie and maybe one of the darkest Star Wars movies since “The Empire strikes back” and that’s the reason why I like it as much. By now I’m more hyped by the anthology series and I also look forward to the Han Solo movie in 2018. If the movie provides one feeling, than it’s – Hope! A new hope also for new Star Wars movies!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Movie: Star Wars – The Force Awakens (Episode VII, Lucas Film 2015)

We all know these kind of words: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”. The beginning of each Star Wars chapter. It’s a while since we read these lines. After the sale of Lucas Film to Disney at the end of 2012 they also announced a new Star Wars triology started in 2015. The news generate a massive hype for this new Star Wars chapture. But there are also critical statements about the Disney deal.

Does it looks like Episode I-III? If we look at the tickets and merchandise sales for the prequels they were definitly a success. The critics for Episode I-III drawn another picture. If you look at IMDB you know what I mean. As a fan of the old triology IV – VI you don’t like the massive CGI effects and the comedy elemets of the prequels. In january 2013 Disney announced that JJ Abrahams produced the new Star Wars movie “The Force Awakens”. Abrahams also produced Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. Is he the right one to re-boot this famous brand? I don’t remind any other movie that produced a hype ahead of it’s release like this one. Since Disney showed the first teaser in 2014 it was 100 million times re-watched. The pressure and high expectations to “The Force Awakens” were massive. To massive?

With Star Wars “The Force Awakens” we’ve got new main actors Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) and also old known heros like Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). The new actors takes a central part of the movie. We started with Rey: Rey, played by Daisy Ridley is a scrap collector on Jakku. She earned her subsistence with the collect of spare parts from old space ships. She lives on Jakku and count the days until her family comes back. I’m definitly a fan of the acting from Daisy Ridley. She makes a great job about expressions and feelings for her new role as Ray. The second main actor is Finn played by John Boyega. He was trained to be a Stormtrooper. On his first fight, that’s the opening scene of the movie, he decides that he don’t want to kill for the First Order. The First Order is the succession of the Empire. The movie acts round about 30 years after “The return of the Jedi” (Episode VI) and describes the rise of the First Order with leader Kylo Ren. Kylo Ren is looking for a map with the exact resistance of Luce Skywalker – the last existed Jedi. At the beginning of the film – Pilot Poe Dameron acted by Oscar Isaac gives the information to a droid called BB8 to hide the resistance in front of Kylo Ren. That’s how the story for Episode IIV starts. For me, the story in Episode IIV is one of the main issues. It looks like a re-boot from Episode IV “A New Hope”. Here are some examples: The opposition have plans and doesn’t want that the First Order / Empire takes it – Rey’s adventure starts on a desert planet, like Luke’s and Anakin’s does – Han Solo is again in smuggler troubles – The Empire / First Order creates s ultimate weapon called Death Star / Star Killer Base – The new weapon has one initial weak spot – A new Father / Son story between Han Solo and Kylo Ren (Ben) like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. There are many others but these are the flashy ones. The movie also have some logical issues like the scene with the bounded Ray and the usage of the force for the first time. But that isn’t very bad – it’s still a science fiction movie, so no one expected a realistic one. And humor? Don’t get me wrong, Star Wars was never a comedy movie but it has these elemets of great jokes and cool sayings. On this Episode the jokes weren’t terrible at all but it looks a little bit inflated. On the other hand there are also some great points for “The Force Awakens”. For me, the first part of the movie in general. The introduction of the First Order / Kylo Ren and Ray on Jakku. The look and feel of the new Episode. It looks more like a classic Star Wars Episode. Less CGI effects, more original costumes and realistic places. It looks great. Another good thing: The old main cast and space ships. It was a nice moment when the camara shows the old Millenium Falcon once again in action. And yes, Han Solo and Chewbacca are home. These points are very important and helps the movie to skip some weak moments.

If you look this movie as a fan of the old episodes (like me) you can pick some great moments. On the other hand this episode will never be a classic one because the movie isn’t independently enough to bring you back in 1977. If you only want to watch a si-fi movie with a high entertainment value you are definitly in the right place. The thing is, it’s not possible to connect all supporters from the prequals and the old triology. That’s one problem of “The Force Awakens”. The other one is his missing own identity. For me it’s not a bad movie and I have a great time in cinema, but I expact more from a Star Wars movie. My hopes are not gone with Episode IIV but I expect more with Episode VIII. And there are some open questions!

Rating: 2 out of 5.